Access to Justice, Lawyers’ Positive Impact Highlighted by New ABA President
ABA News Service
TORONTO – Former American Bar Association treasurer and Kentucky Bar Association past president Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, took office today as president of the ABA. He will serve in that capacity until the close of the association’s Annual Meeting in August 2012.
“I am extremely honored and enthusiastically accept the responsibilities of representing you as your next president,” Robinson said in remarks to the association’s House of Delegates on Monday. “I am determined to lead this great association with commitment, clarity and continuity, as we work together to guide the future of our profession,” he continued.
Robinson will focus on issues he believes will make the ABA stronger and more relevant to lawyers and our nation: the state court funding crisis, volunteerism, membership and diversity in the profession.
The association’s Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System has held public hearings during the last year and gathered information about the dire state of courts around the country that are coping with inadequate funding.
“Our mandate is clear,” said Robinson. “There is nothing more precious than our freedom and that comes from access to justice. We must continue the work of this critical task force, and fight to preserve funding for our nation’s state courts.”
In the coming year, the task force will also investigate best practices for courts to cut costs and boost efficiency, and advocate for adequate funding for the judiciary from state legislators.
“Although there are no easy answers in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to treat our judicial branch as another line item in a budget,” said Robinson. “It is one of three co-equal branches of government, responsible for protecting citizens’ rights,” he continued. “We don’t want to regret that we did not do everything in our power to adequately fund our courts and must counter this fundamental threat to our constitutional democracy.”
Robinson will also focus on diversity in the legal profession and the ABA. “It is critical that we reflect the society in which we live and ensure that all lawyers are welcome,” Robinson said. “Diversity enhances us individually and as a profession.”
Robinson will be highlighting the positive impact lawyers make every day in providing pro bono and public service to non-profits, community groups and organizations around the country. “As lawyers, volunteerism is in our DNA,” he said. We are committed to giving back to our communities, providing solutions to problems and helping those in need.”
An ABA member for more than 35 years, Robinson is the member-in-charge of the Florence, Ky., offices of Frost Brown Todd LLC, a regional law firm of nearly 500 lawyers with offices in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana. Throughout his career, Robinson has been a leader in the legal profession as well as in his community, including serving as chair for the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, and the Kentucky and Northern Kentucky Chambers of Commerce, among others.
At the ABA, Robinson has been a member of the association’s policy-making House of Delegates for more than 25 years. He chaired the Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs and was a member of the planning committee for the annual “ABA Day” advocacy event held in April in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Board of Governors’ Strategic Planning Committee. For seven years, Robinson was a member of the ABA Board of Governors.
For nearly four decades, civil litigation at the trial and appellate levels has been the primary focus of Robinson’s law practice. He has substantial experience in commercial litigation, class actions, product liability defense, environmental litigation and medical malpractice defense.
Robinson’s work in the law and the community has been recognized by several organizations. He has received the Certificate of Appreciation for Lifetime Pro Bono Services/Support from Legal Services Corporation, the Liberty Bell Award, recognition for Law Day USA from the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, the Lincoln Award from Northern Kentucky University, the Themis Award from the Cincinnati Bar Association, the Jacob E. Davis Award from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Outstanding Lawyer Award from the Kentucky Bar Association and the Oak Award as Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky from the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education. He has also received honorary doctor of laws degrees from Western State University and Northern Kentucky University.
Robinson is a graduate of Thomas More College and the College of Law at the University of Kentucky where, in 2004, he was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame.